Over 110 cities against Europe's last dictatorship
Tomorrow, on Thursday 18th March 2010, the Young European Federalists (JEF) and numerous global partners will protest against Europe's last standing dictatorship on the fourth anniversary of the disputed presidential elections in Belarus.
If you happen to come across a gagged statue with a sign demanding a voice for the citizens of Belarus – then you shall be witnessing how JEF and it's partners silently protest against the silence forced on Belarus's citizens by the dictator. In 2009, the action took place in around 120 cities all over Europe and the wider world. This year, over 110 cities have confirmed their participation; with actions taking place as far away as Jakarta, Islamabad and Baltimore!
"Such an enthusiastic turnout means Europeans are opposed to Lukashenko continuing to violate basic human rights on our doorstep. It also means we are growing impatient over a lack of a clear stance of the European Union on this issue. The EU needs an unambiguous foreign policy, and turning a blind eye does not qualify as one," action co-ordinator Elisabeth Velle is determined.
"We want to see a Belarus with no death penalty, no human rights violations, with truly democratic elections, freedom for press and NGOs, and freedom of speech enjoyed by everyone, instead of just Lukaschenko and his officials. A European Belarus is all we are asking for," says JEF-Europe president Philippe Adriaenssens.
JEFers believe it is on European Commission Vice-President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton to foster greater co-operation between Member States and European Institutions, and to assist Europe in assuming a more active role in international politics.
"The message of the fifth Free Belarus action is that actions always speak louder than words. It's time for a free Belarus, it's time for a single European foreign policy, and it's time to lift the suspension of sanctions on Belarusian officials!" concludes Velle.